The administrators of this web site and its host server have received many inquiries about our political positions and about the legitimacy of our rights to use these photographs in the way that we do. This is an attempt to explain the position of the administrator ("ben"), and these views do not necessarily reflect those of the host server's administrator.
America is unique in that the American media have been deliberately neglecting and discrediting images coming from the ground on which American bombs have been falling. The media plays a crucial role in a democracy where the citizens choose their leaders and consent to be governed. The public relies on the media to accurately represent events and ideas and to be critical of all sources of information. If the media blindly accepts press statements from the Pentagon, it fails to do its job. The media would fail just as much if it blindly accepted statements from the Taliban. Without a full picture of what is going on in Afghanistan, Americans cannot give their informed consent to what is being done in their names.
"Ben" does not have the resources or expertise to investigate the sources of these photos. However, the simple fact that these images are real show that there is a big hole in the media's coverage of this war. The events portrayed in these images must be presented to the public before they can be dispelled. If these images never reach the public, the media is censoring itself, something Americans certainly would not let their government do.
These images are protected by copyright. Copyright law is meant to protect the livelihood of artists, authors, and workers who make intellectual or creative products. It means that anything someone creates is legally his or her intellectual property and she or he deserves to receive just compensation for the use or publication of this work.
In the case where these images are being ignored by mainstream American media, this particular web site is not preventing the photojournalists from receiving payment. If these images were being presented to the American public through the mainstream media, this web site would be redundant and unnecessary. Therefore, whether copyright law applies, copyright law cannot protect the rights of the journalist to control his or her own work here in any positive way.
The question should then be "Why isn't the mainstream media respecting the work of experienced foreign corespondents and international news organizations?"
Journalists who work in foreign countries that are facing political, humanitarian, or other sorts of crises take many risks to do their job. In Afghanistan specifically, the Taliban government has jailed journalists. Should the hard work of these journalists who sometimes risk their lives be ignored?
The American mainstream media is deliberately ignoring these images which are as accessible to them as were the reports of the September 11 attacks. The Washington Post reported on October 31, 2001 that CNN's chair had ordered his staff to downplay reports of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has issued two action alerts (see CNN Says Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse", and Fox: Civilian Casualties Not News) on this issue.
"ben" presents these photographs as a public service. No profit is made from this site. The few links from this site are to nonprofit organizations. His intention is not to steal from hardworking journalists and photographers. If any individual photojournalist who retains ownership of his work does not want his work on this web site, she or he is free to email "ben" to have it removed.
"ben" originally set up this web site simply to show images depicting the unseen effects of bombing in Afghanistan. He readily admits that this project cannot be apolitical, but he does not want to dilute the power of the images with his own personal politics.
Based on the referral statistics for this site, the interest in this web site comes from all sides of the political, religious, and cultural spectrum. Palestinian activists, American progressives, white nationalists, Quakers, Wiccans, Pakistanis, Malaysians, New Zealanders, and the gay & lesbian community are just a small part of the identifiable segment of the traffic to this site. The majority of traffic to this site cannot be identified. "Ben" won't be held responsible for the kinds of people attracted to this site, and by the same token he won't use this site to make any statements beyond those which are already being made.